Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jack & Jill and the "Burdensome Bucket"

I love the title of this post - it's like some cheesy middle-school mystery novel. But in reality, this is WAY more fun - it's a chose your own adventure story! Yay!

Jack and Jill were in love. They lived at the top of a hill. Unfortunately, a drought was coming, and they needed water, and the only well was at the bottom of the hill.
They needed three buckets full of water to last through the coming drought. It was getting dark, they only had three buckets and there wasn't time to make two trips before it got dark.

Returning with less than three buckets full of water would result in them both not having enough water to drink for the coming drought.

Jack and Jill headed down the mountain, three buckets in tow, to fetch the water they needed for the upcoming drought. They knew that come midnight, that night, the seasonal drought would come and last for the next 10 days. The well would be dry and this was their last chance to get water. When Jack and Jill reached the bottom of the hill, there was a sign next to the well. It read:
Women must carry two buckets up the hill. Men may only carry one bucket up the hill.
~ The Patriarchy

Jack and Jill obeyed the sign. Jack took the blue bucket and Jill picked up the red and yellow bucket.

After about a quarter of the way up the hill, Jack has to take a break to pee. He sets down his blue bucket and heads off into the bushes. Jill realizes that carrying twice the load of water up the hill is unfair. Jill:
A) continues all the way up the hill without complaining - because the sign did seem official - and she didn't want to upset the status quo.

B) attempts to convince Jack to take the other bucket when they reach the half way point.

C) forces Jack to take the third bucket - or else she will not carry any buckets to the top of the hill.

D) decides to sabotage Jack's bucket.

E) decides to sabotage all the buckets to teach Jack a lesson.


A#) Jill, recognizing the apparent unfairness of Jack's distribution of buckets, but still bound by the sign, carries both buckets, one in each hand, to the top of the hill. When they reach the top, Jack asks for a back rub, but Jill's hands are too sore to rub his back.

B#) Jill, realizing that the arrangement is unfair, speaks to Jack rationally and explains that the sign doesn't have to be obeyed - and that they should do what is fair. Jack, who loves Jill very much, doesn't want her to suffer unfairly. "To hell with the Patriarchy!" Jack says, and promises to carry both buckets when they get to the halfway point. When they get to the halfway point, Jack:
B1) honors his promise to Jill, and takes the yellow bucket from her.

B2) realizes that carrying one bucket is actually harder than carrying two buckets. He realizes that the Patriarchy was trying to protect women from the more difficult job, and refuses to take the second bucket.

C#) Jill, angry that Jack so readily agreed to an obviously-unfair arrangement, demands he take the extra bucket. Jack, wanting to please Jill, does so, but feels bitter she would be so angry about it. As he waddles up the hill with Jill by his side, he thinks to himself "Why couldn't she just ask nicely?" When they eventually reach the top, Jill's back hurts quite a lot. Unfortunately, Jacks hands are too sore to massage her aches. Jill thinks Jack is just bitter that she forced him to carry the two buckets.

D#) Jill decides to teach Jack a lesson. She quickly fills up Jack's bucket with dark smooth rocks before he returns. He comes back (without even washing his hands! EW!) and hefts up the rock-filled bucket. He carries it, alongside Jill to the top of the hill. As they pour out their buckets into the water barrel, Jack finally realizes his bucket was full of rocks the whole time. Exasperated, he looks at Jill. "Don't look at me, Jack. You'd better hurry, double-time down the hill and get that third bucket of water. If you're quick, it will only be dark for your trip back up the hill." Jack, recognizing that Jill already carried two buckets up, takes off down the hill in the dusk to bring his second bucket up. His back already sore from carrying the single, unbalanced bucket up the hill, considers taking two buckets. Jack decides:
D1) take one bucket down the hill, because two buckets might make him too slow to get back before dark.
D2) take two buckets down the hill, to get more water and save his ailing back.

E#) As Jack is relieving himself in the bushes, Jill decides to make her own "contribution" to the buckets of water. Jill, driven insane by the unfairness of their situation (coupled with the unimaginable fact that this type of unfairness has been occuring to millions of OTHER women because of that DAMN SIGN), brings the tainted water back up to the house and pours it into the water barrel. Later, as the drought ravages the land the next day, the putrid smell of the water barrel clues Jack in to Jill's deeds. He confronts her and she readily admits what she's done.


A1#) Both go to bed in pain, unable to comfort the other - but not quite sure who to blame. After all, if they switched roles, then Jill would be going to bed with a sore back and Jack would have sore hands - and just how would that be any better?

B1#) Jack takes the yellow bucket from Jill and begins up the second half of the hill. After just a few steps, Jack realizes that carrying two balanced buckets is actually easier, and is grateful to Jill for making the rest of the trip easier on his aching back. Jill is relieved because she can now carry the remaining bucket in one hand, giving one hand a rest at a time. She switches the bucket back and forth for the rest of the trip to the top. When Jack and Jill get to the top, they take turns giving each other a back rub - because both of their backs hurt a little, but neither of their hands hurt too much to give a rub. They then have passionate monkey sex all night long. (Ok, it was actually more like 10 minutes - but it was a REALLY good 10 minutes.)

B2#) Jack carries the one bucket the rest of the way up the hill. Jill is bitter at Jack for having the "easier" job, and Jack is bitter that Jill doesn't recognize his sacrifice. They both go to bed in pain, but also resenting the other person's attitude and inability to see the suffering they are enduring.

D1#) Jack grabs the bucket, empties out the remaining rocks, and charges down the hill. He gets to the bottom and fills up the bucket. He charges up the hill, his back nearly breaking from the awkward weight. As he nears the house, he hears the sound of wolves howling, and turns to look behind him. He tweaks his already-weak back and tumbles off the hill, smashing his brains on the rocks below. Jill, safe at home with her two buckets-worth of water and only sore hands, is comfortable, but ultimately lonely.

D2#) Jack grabs the two buckets and charges down the hill. He fills up both buckets, ignoring the sign, and begins the long, slow haul back up the hill. Unfortunately, he is too slow and it gets dark. He is eaten by a Gazebo. Jill, safe at home with her two buckets-worth of water and only sore hands, is comfortable, but ultimately lonely.

E1#) Jack and Jill spend the coming weeks drinking the foul water, becoming ill and ultimately dying of dysentery.


I hope you enjoyed reading that more than I enjoyed writing it. I had this idea because I wanted to get across the idea that not only is it important for feminists to chose the correct tactic when it comes to solving problems of gender roles in society, but it is important for men to have the right attitude when it comes to fixing it.

In case it isn't obvious the following "solutions" are allegorical of the following ideologies.

A 1 is the result of non-feminist mindset maintaining the status quo. I don't think that this is very likely at this point - I think we'd have to take steps BACKWARDS to have this happen regularly.
B 1 is the ideal ending and is the result of non-retributive gender egalitarianism by both women and men.
B 2 is the result of gender egalitarian women being held back by (well-meaning) non-gender egalitarian men.
C is what would happen if we get a non-gender egalitarian men coupled with gynocentric feminist women. It results in a similar situation to A 1, oddly enough. This could be the result of what would happen if misogynist MRAs and misandrist feminists got their way - the gender wars would be in full scale blitzkreig.
D 1&2 is the result of gynocentric feminists who practice the "zero-sum" battle for equality. (This aspect of feminism was responsible for the poorly-thought-out domestic violence and paternity laws that are currently responsible for a great deal of suffering on the part of men and also, consequently, one of the best recruiting tools that MRAs could hope for.)
E is the probable result of gender-segregation radical feminists and their ilk.

As a way of analyzing my own allegory, I'd like to point out the interesting similarities that I think we face in A and C. I want to state this plainly: if men don't get on board with gender egalitarianism, we are lost.

Secondly, I want to address the likelihood of A and E. I think the probability of sliding backwards into a pre-feminist state is about as likely as fully-implemented gender-segregation (meaning: not very likely at all.) I also think that these two groups overestimate the likelihood of the other taking hold (i.e. rad fems warn of backsliding, non-feminists warn of "feminazi" death camps.) That said, I think we need to speak out equally against BOTH groups. I think if either group got its way that suffering would be increased among all of us.


  1. I guess the question that pops into my mind is, how did Jack possibly miss the fact that he was carrying only one bucket and Jill was carrying two?

  2. Mythago: I recognize that men have acted blindly in the past thousands of years. Jack is not innocent in this story, as I do not think "men" are innocent. But sometimes it takes *time* to realize how unfair a situation is.

  3. You missed the chivalrous choice, F: Jack is made to feel guilty about past injustices carried out by "his" ancestors, even though his mother was a woman and Jill's father was a man, so he carries all three buckets. Jill resents him for not taking women seriously.

  4. I have a bit of a gripe with this. The beginning of this scenario seems to be missing something. Even if you prefer to call this system patriarchy its missing the fact that boys are taught that they are supposed to take on extra burdens not only to "protect girls" but also to verify that they are "real men" (one of those things tend to get lost depending on who you ask).

    I would venture to say that its almost as likely that that sing may have been reversed.

  5. Well, fantastic story, except that "patriarchy" is the notion that men should carry all the buckets.
    Feminism adds that he must also carry the woman.

    Care to disagree? Prove me then that there was a sign on the Titanic that for every man who dies two women must die.

  6. Good point Deasdale. When the Titanic went down several members of the crew actively kept men off the life boats, even if that meant releasing them with less than full capacity. Sure you could try to explain that away with saying that that was done by male crew members but that doesn't explain why women weren't trying to take their men with them.

    I get the feeling that there weren't many women who acted like Kathy Bates' character in the Titanic movie (who actually tried to organize the women on the boats to go back for the men).

  7. Hey guys, I appreciate the comments. My intent wasn't to have the buckets represent physical labor. They were supposed to represent general burdens put on us by society (I hate the word patriarchy).

    For example, traditionally, men aren't allowed to cry - and women are expected to wear make-up in public. Etc - I don't want to get into details about which burden is greatest.

    It doesn't matter WHO carries two buckets - this story works just as well with men carrying two and women carrying one - my point is that if we ever want a fair outcome, both genders have to come together with respect and good will.

    Whose bucket-load is heavier is immaterial - what DOES matter is that when one gender percieves they have the short end of the stick - that both men and women work out realistic, reasonable (AND NON-RETRIBUTIVE) methods of resolution.